Sunday, November 11, 2007

City of Encinitas, School District Sued for Wrongful Death

Remember the tragic death of the San Dieguito Academy student walking under the I-5 bridge on Santa Fe? His family is suing. I remember walking or riding my bike under that bridge hundreds of times when I was a student there. It was harrowing.

From City of Encinitas, School District Sued for Wrongful Death

The family of a San Dieguito Academy teenager who died after being hit by a fellow student's car has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Vista Superior Court. Named in the lawsuit are the City of Encinitas, San Dieguito Academy, San Dieguito Union High School and the State Department of Transportation. The driver of the vehicle and his father were also named.

The lawsuit alleges that the district and the state knew that road conditions in the area were dangerous and therefore must share in the liability.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges that road conditions in the area are dangerous and that the agencies are partly liable for the boy's death because they knew of the problem, or should have known, and did nothing about it.

The accident happened beneath the Interstate 5 bridge that spans Santa Fe Drive, about four blocks west of San Dieguito Academy. Ryan was walking with other students who were returning to school from a lunch break.

No sidewalks exist on the south side of the busy road, where the students were walking. The lawsuit states that pedestrian access is inadequate, and so are signs and warning devices to keep pedestrians safe.

The lawsuit alleges that the school district was negligent and says the open-campus policy at San Dieguito Academy exposes students to the risks of busy roads without adequate supervision.

The victim's family is represented by prominent San Diego attorney Craig McClellan, who has said his case against the school district would focus on the negligence of it "open campus" policy knowing of the dangerous conditions outside the campus.

There is apparently evidence that the negligent driver, also a teen, was showing off to his passenger at the time of the accident, and deliberately maneuvered his car in a reckless way before losing control of his car. Everybody in the case will obviously be pointed at the driver as the sole case of the accident. I think it will be tough to get around that, but if any lawyer in San Diego can spread the liability around to the other defendants it's Craig McClennan. This will be an interesting case to follow.

Lots of comments on the story:
Mother of teen suing over son's death

Feb. UT story: Boy's death spurs talk on lack of sidewalks


  1. one of the major epidemics in our town is these rich kids getting big powerfull trucks and fast cars on their 16th birthday...
    you might pull the jelousy card on me but my 1984 s-10 probably couldn't have broke the tires loose even had i tried. it did however give me time to
    see and learn about driving and gave me a respect for my own hi powered truck when i finally bought one myself. the responsability really does lie with the parents and the kid who did this. or should we tear down the bridge support that the victom was pinned to or sue the curb that the truck jumped over.

  2. Between sante Fe and the Leucadia Rail Road Crossing you can kiss away the money to pay for the trophy projects and any other projects. The City Council has wasted its efforts on trophy projects when it should have and should be addressing existing problems. Now we all pay- BIG!

    When will they wisen up?

  3. Perhaps if it was Jordan's kid that was killed, in a death waiting to happen because the City has done nothing to make that area any safer, he or she might have a different opinion of who is responsible. I am not big on litigation, however, that is sometimes the only way things that are wrong are made right. I believe that the driver, his father, the City, and anyone else on that litigation list is fair game. No one should die because the City or Caltrans won't spend money on a project that might cost a little more than they want to spend. It is a tragic situation. My heart goes out to the young man's family. Because of a lot of people, this 14 year old never got to experience so many things.

  4. so sidewalks are a community benefit. . .right?

  5. Gil-what are you talking about? Who said anything about sidewalks, or any other idea to really solve the problem. That is why I thought we had Staff at City hall. There have been a lot of near miss experiences in the past. Unfortunatley, this was not a near miss, but a dead on shot. Perhaps you did not mean to sound insensitve, but that is how this "shrink" read it. Perhaps you should stick to upzoning?

  6. dr. lorri - i do luv ya. any un necessary loss of life is heart breaking, you obviously don't know me.

    the staff at city hall and the council continually talk of side walks and "safe paths to school."

    i, an out of towner, have been at the City of Encinitas yearly goal setting sessions and heard it discussed.

    it really comes down to bucks, dollars, dinero, and there is only so much available at city hall via the taxpayers.

    and since i am sticking to upzoning, this is one of the things that can be extracted from property developers.

    from an objective stand point it seems that the driver of the vehicle has to bear the majority of the burden for the fatality. it is a dangerous world we live in and that overpass is a dangerous one. personally i always walk against traffic so i can see the deadly weapon as it approaches and i always sit with my back to the wall when i play poker.

    and the longer you make the litigation list the fatter the lawyers get, part of the reason i didn't slide into the procession.

    i do luv ya, no foul intended.

  7. The entire Santa Fe Rd needs safe sidewalks not just west of the roundabout. What about when the Hall park goes in and hundreds of kids are crossing under the dangerous bridge?

  8. You all never played Dukes of Hazard when you first got your license did ya?

    Curbs provide minuscule protection to pedestrians. Moving cars have little problem popping up over a standard curb.

    Good thing there wasn't anyone standing by the light pole when the firefighter drove over the curb and across the sidewalk. The sidewalk offered no protection.

  9. Roadside Park BumNovember 11, 2007 8:23 PM

    I warned you this was going to happen, I've been warning you for several years now, but no one pays any attention to a bum!!!

    Every city council(from the first days of cityhood) is negligent for allowing this to occur. We have plenty of consultants reports sitting on shelves at city hall, hundreds of thousands of dollars of reports and what not, money that could have gone into infrastructure!!

    But noooooo, we need a library!! We need a senior center, we need a park that no one can use.

    What we need are some council members with some balls to tell the special interests to go to hell!! We are going to build safe roads, sidewalks, streetlights, drainage, parks that people can use.

    The city waits until some sap of a contractor wants to build 10 houses and then tells him/her that he/she needs to put in a 1/4 mile of sidewalks as part of the building permit process. Meanwhile the streets are unsafe for the children and the disabled. But does the city care?? Hell NO!!! The have an insurance policy that will protect them. Although insurance companies don't pay in cases of known negligence. The COE knew or should have known that Santa Fe drive is unsafe!! Right now there is a telephone pole sticking out on Santa Fe, just east of McKinnon, waiting to kill some poor driver or drunk that losses control of their car or truck.
    The COE will put up guard rails to protect some dead or dying Eucalyptus trees on 101, but wont place a guard rail in front of that pole to protect a driver. It's negligence pure and simple!!

    You poor saps will be paying for this one with your tax dollars. How much will it cost you, my guess is millions. Millions that could go to infrastructure needs.

    I'm still waiting for the Beacons access to collapse on some beach go'ers, there's another lawsuit. I'll leave my comments for that to another day.

    Staggering up and down the new sidewalks( I love the red no parking strips) It's your 'ol pal the Roadside Park Bum. Still waiting for some new trees in the park. Reminds me of 'Nam and the deforestation with agent orange!! Thanks COE , thanks for nothing!!

  10. Roadside Park BumNovember 11, 2007 9:28 PM

    Dr Lorri- Of course, I'm the most self-educated bum you're never going to meet. I've decided to not waste my talents on this blog unless there is a real need.
    I can see the train derailing and sliding for a 1/2 mile or more, killing untold numbers of people and destroying buildings. But will the COE and NCTD do anything... NOPE. They will wait until death is everywhere and CNN is on our doorstep, then the politicos will all go on TV and say how they have always wanted to underground the train, etc, etc. Lies, all lies, they all lie!!

    The facts are quite clear, if the city wanted to do something positive regarding these dangerous situations.... they would, but they don't, do they???


  11. Welcome Back RSPB. You were missed.

    I agree this one will cost the city Millions, the millions could have been used to fix the Leucadia Rail Road Death trap.

    Use some of the trophy debt money the City earmarked for the trophy project to get the Railroad crossing fixed, before we waste millions more and loose more lives.

    Come on Council get some brains.

  12. Why were the kids there anyway? Keep them in school.

  13. Such a tragedy.
    But how is this the City's fault?
    The Kid who was driving is at fault for being reckless.
    The Kid who got killed is at fault for not being smart enough to walk against traffic.
    But the school & the City are not at fault.
    Grow up and take responsibility for your own actions.

  14. WOW, to the last blogger. Your compassion is overwhelming. The kid was walking with a bunch of other kids. So, is it their fault too? Perhaps San Dieguito should rethink their "open" off campus lunch policy. That might help with the problem. All I know for sure, is my heart goes out to this 14 year olds family. Of course, according to the previous blogger, it was partially his fault, so perhaps the family instilled "suicidal" behavior as a part of their parenting techniques.

  15. I too have walked under those bridges hundreds of times to and from school. The ones on Encinitas Blvd are no different than the Santa Fe ones and they haven't changed for 42 years. But no pedestrian is safe when a vehicle near them loses control - for whateverr reason (IF that is what happened, and sounds like it did). The city has continually created safer walks to school in many parts of our city. Nardo, Union St., Vulcan Ave, Santa Fe etc. But even those areas that have improved still cannot protect pedestrians from tons of steel in motion and out of control aimed at them. It's a devastating tragedy for both families I'm sure, but I cant see this being the city or the school's liability. Perhaps a ramped sidewalk ABOVE the level of the street and BEHIND the pilasters could prevent this from ever happening again.

  16. come on dr lorri - everyone has nothing but compassion for the family. there is nothing worse than a mother losing her children. my mother constantly tells me the rule is that a child should never pass before the mother. if its not a rule it should be. and maybe they do need to re-think the open campus rule or limit the acceptable open campus area to west of I-5, - not. there is no easy solution and the lawyers and insurance companies will parcel out the % of blame as best they can including some for the group of overly cautious students as they quickly and carefully attemped to navigate the underpass with their primary attention being the traffic on the road.

  17. Sad times for EncinitasNovember 12, 2007 6:57 PM

    Wow a shame...

    The City allowed the traffic to increase by 3 times the level it was 10 years ago, yet they did nothing to improve safety for pedestrians. When there wasn't such traffic pressures for all the development, people drove slower and it wasn't as dangerous as it is today. Now all of north county cuts through Encinitas as fast as possible and has created a gauntlet on our streets. Now we need to build safe walkways so are families can survive.

    I wonder how much the next suite at Leucadia railroad crossing will cost the City?

  18. Gil-I am afraid we will just have to disagree on this one. First, if I were any attorney, I would take this case in a heartbeat. Not to make money, but to hold some people and organizations accountable. Perhaps Carol Lam got fired, for attempting to hold Duke Cunningham accountable? Was she wrong for doing that?How about Brent Wilkes. Perhaps he should have gotten off too? And neither one of them, to the best of my knowledge, killed or allowed someone to be killed. The City is at fault. San Dieguito is at fault. The young man who drove the truck is at fault. Caltrans is probably at fault. What those percentages are, I haven't a clue. However, if none of them are considered at fault, I guess they won't have to cough up a dime.It will all play out in a court of law, which fortunately we still have available to us the the United States. However, all of that said, it still seems to me, from the sound of some of the blogggers, that this young man's life was not considered important enough to even consider his life might have been worth something. Sorry Gil, you are right. I don't know you. Perhaps you are as compassionate as you say you are. That is one of the many problems with blogging. One doesn't always know the person writing. I will give you credit for posting under your own name. Most people don't seem to have the courage to do that, especially when they are accusing the 14 year old himself for getting killed. That one is especially moving.

  19. Dr. lorri you're missing the point.
    I drive that road every day. I was there a few minutes after the kid was killed and drove by every day since then. I practically cried every time I looked at the spot where it happened. I have three children of my own and I think there is nothing worse that can happen someone than loosing one of your children. I felt so sorry for all the parents involved. Including the children that saw it happen.
    I think you are letting your emotions get the best of you, and I some what question your credentials and you ability to be objective.
    Every action we take carries with it a certain degree of risk.
    Wether it's eating your breakfast or surfing or just walking down the road.
    The mother of this child knew her child was attending the Academy. She knew it has a open campus policy. She knew her kid was walking down the street to get pizza or an ice cream or what ever, on his lunch break.
    Which is good for local businesses and the kids.
    She had to have dropped off or picked up her kid from school at least once, so she knew the situation at the underpass.
    Knowing that everything we do has some sort of risk involved the smart ones try to minimize the risk as much as possible.
    When I walk down a busy street especially one with no sidewalk i walk against traffic.
    I tell my kids to look out for cars, not to play on certain streets, to wear their helmet and pads when they skateboard and so on. All, so they stand a better chance of surviving.
    There is no doubt that the kid driving the car is responsible for the childs death.
    But if this Mother starts naming the School and the City, well then let's not stop there.
    She her self is to blame by her own reasoning.
    That's why I think she & you are being ridiculous.

  20. Jon should be president of the local Libertarian party.

  21. Jon- While I like your libertarian views. They American public have victim mentality. This one and the future deaths at the rail road crossing are going to cost the City big.

    The City has been noticed many times about the hazardous conditions and chose to do nothing because the "cost" was to high to build a protect walkway. A guardrail would prevent this type of accident.

    The current City Council led by Stocks, Dalager and Bond is focused on trophy projects, instead of addressing existing hazardous situations. This has to change or we will lose all of our money to negligent claims. The trophy projects are not needed. ADDRESS THE REAL PROBLEMS!

  22. I don't understand why the Academy, still allows the off campus policy. It is insane! I see the kids that just got their licenses, "barrel", out the school parking lot at lunchtime screaming profanities and driving completely out of control. My daughter is a 10th grader and I specifically do not want her going off campus, for this reason. I agree that there are so many rich families, basically handing over things to their kids, not making the kids accountable for their behavior or attitudes. I see it everyday. The kids here feel this entitlement thing. Some, not all. It is a very bad message to continue to justify irresponsible behavior. The accident was awful, and I certainly feel that there should of been and should be, a safe sidewalk with adequate side rails, to help keep all pedestrians, safe but especially the students that walk that path, everyday.

  23. I don't understand why the Academy, still allows the off campus policy. It is insane! I see the kids that just got their licenses, "barrel", out the school parking lot at lunchtime screaming profanities and driving completely out of control. My daughter is a 10th grader and I specifically do not want her going off campus, for this reason. I agree that there are so many rich families, basically handing over things to their kids, not making the kids accountable for their behavior or attitudes. I see it everyday. The kids here feel this entitlement thing. Some, not all. It is a very bad message to continue to justify irresponsible behavior. The accident was awful, and I certainly feel that there should of been and should be, a safe sidewalk with adequate side rails, to help keep all pedestrians, safe but especially the students that walk that path, everyday.

  24. So how much will th4e city pay out in the lawsuit?? Will we ever know?? Stocks, Binds, Dalager and Houlihan are responsible for this nightmare!!1 Fire them all in November!! How much will you pay?? How much??

    RSPB- will JP investigate this or just keep reporting the same old tired stories as always, after all it's his money also!!!


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